“It’s important to be kind to everyone you meet and to be open to opportunities—even ones that don’t initially seem like something that exactly fits in with your career goals,” reflects Jesse Cannon (’17). “It’s good to have a focus, but it’s okay to branch out. ” Jesse is currently a stage technician at Walt Disney World. She began working full-time just two weeks ago, after completing an internship she landed by networking with contacts her UVM professor introduced her to.

Reflecting on how she got to where she is, Jesse notes attending job fairs, conferences and job prep events (like Gear Up for Graduation) as key stepping stones. “It was really great to talk to everyone at Gear Up. I got some valuable feedback on presentation, learned about the job search process and really valued having my resume looked at by the resume doctors.”  Additionally, Jesse notes, “the LinkedIn and LGBTQA booths at Gear Up were both extremely helpful in approaching the process from the context of the real world outside of the college bubble. Definitely attend if you can, I’m so glad I went.”

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Michaela Yarnell, UVM alum (’14) and Legislative Aide for Bernie Sanders, told us she would “not be where [she is] today without networking.” Yarnell began in the Sanders’ office as an intern and successfully moved up to her current position by networking with permanent staff.

The key to networking, according to Yarnell, is “perfecting your elevator speech.” Whether you’re attending a networking event, asking for an informational interview or actually bump into someone in an elevator, be prepared to offer “a succinct and clear thirty-second speech about yourself and your strengths.”

Michaela also recommends having a couple of questions at the ready. Her favorites are: “What are one or two things you know now that you wish you knew when you were an undergrad?” and “Can you tell me about a project you’re working on that would give me a sense of your day-to-day work?”  She also stressed the importance of doing some research beforehand, so you’ve got some specific and relevant questions.

Of course, not everyone you meet is someone you’ll want to keep in touch with, but when you do find someone you want to connect with, ask for an informational interview. “People like to talk about themselves,” Michaela notes, so don’t be afraid to ask.  When they agree, “go in armed with good questions and then give the interviewer the floor.”  And always be sure to follow up! “Don’t just email when you need something, find ways to stay in touch creatively and keep a steady drum beat of communication.”

Ultimately, networking is about creating personal relationships, so it’s important to connect well, and to walk away from the networking conversation with some action items or a new understanding of how you’ll move closer towards your goals.

Melissa Weiss studied Nutrition and Food science at UVM. Last summer, she got introduced to Farr Farms in Richmond, Vermont through the Food Systems Internship Program. As the Production Manager Assistant and Social Media Intern, Melissa started helping with milk production and was soon researching and developing new products like gelato!  “The company was still small and growing, so there was a lot of room to explore different avenues of what it took to build a business.”  The internship proved instrumental in preparing Melissa for new position as the Nutrition Intern at Savorfull.  The chance to “wear many different hats and hold a lot of responsibilities” prepared her to thrive in this entrepreneurial food-based business.

Melissa was at Farr Farms full-time for four months, and though it was a somewhat difficult transition at first, in that time, she went from being a newbie to a competent and capable farmhand. “Internships,” Melissa concludes, “are extremely important… If you can do something you like in your field, it’ll go a long way in preparing you for success down the road.”

68% of UVM students engage in internships to further their studies and gain invaluable hands-on experience. The Food Systems Internships Program is one way to get connected.  Discover many more internships in Handshake – both in Vermont and across the nation – then drop by The Hub to take your next step!

Over 850 students and alums got a chance to connect with 125 local and national employers at last week’s career fair, and the employers were impressed!


Did you know that employers use Handshake to find potential employees and interns? Maggie Massey, the UVM Peace Corps recruiter, likes how easy it is to review public student profiles.  She recommends that, when you activate your profile, “provide details about your experiences. The more you can tell about a student, including volunteer experience and interests, the better.  Companies want employees that fit their organizational culture, let your Handshake profile reflect who you are!”  More great insights and valuable tips  below! (more…)

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